Doug Mink in 2004

Doug to Jessica

I have not always had the same name and appearance.
Here's why:

Jessica Mink in 2014 (outside)

I am a male to female (m2f) transgender person, that is, I identify more as a woman than as a man. This is a situation which I have been struggling with for most of my life. Over the first decade of the twnety-first century, this had more and more of an effect on my life, and by the end of 2010, I decided that I was ready to live full time as a woman. I started transitioning to my friends in Boston's bicycle community in the late spring of 2011. As the summer wore on, I had an accident and was hospitalized briefly, got back on my bike (after a few weeks), and started leading rides as Jessica. Before the end of the year, I transitioned at work, too. I have been blessed with an accepting circle of friends in my neighborhood, the bicycle and open space communities of metropolitan Boston, the astronomical community where I work and world-widem and to a great extent, my family.

This interview with Wladimir Lyra and Stefano Meschiari of the American Astronomical Society Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality (WGLE) lays out the story of my transition in astronomy and my attitudes in April 2014.

My post, "On Being a Transgender Astronomer" in the Women in Atronomy blog lays out my current thoughts on gender as of December 2014.

If you wish to learn more, the best online resource for understanding transgender issues I have found is Understanding Transgender at the web site of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

It appears that gender identity is usually innate, even when it does not match our biological sex. That means that many trans* people might not *appear* any different than their knowledge of their biological sex (how a person's genes express in their physical appearance) would lead you to believe, while others may take hormones, have surgery, or simply change their wardrobe and appearance to match the gender which they feel themselves to be. Thus gender presentation or expression is a separate thing from gender identity, though it is often related.
This useful graphic by Sam Killerman shows the various scales which can describe a person's position in this four-dimensional space, allowing two scales each, male and female, for a person's gender identity, gender expression, biological gender, and who they are attracted to.

Here and here are some pretty good answers to questions you might have about transgender people.

Being able to finally be myself in the world is freeing me from constraints which have held me back from committing more of myself to my friends, my work, and my causes. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

Now that you know, especially if you first met me as Jessica, please be careful about telling other people. Since I transitioned, I really, really do not like being referred to with male pronouns, especially by people I am just meeting. I'm public to those who know me, but prefer to just be a woman in the world. Here is a good list of reasons to not talk about it from a friend of mine.

As a person who has tended to be more into books than real people, I've read about more than acted upon my transgender feelings over many years. Here are some books in my library which might help others understand my position.

-Jessica Mink (2014-12-16)

Telescope Data Center MassPaths